On Saturday night, it was as though Oprah was in the building giving out points to every player on the floor.
You get a point, you get a point, and you get a point.
There was no shortage of points between both the visiting Moncton Miracles and the host London Lightning in their first meeting of 2015-16. For the fans in attendance, it was an exciting back-and-forth affair with neither team being able to pull away and put some separation between one another.
At the end of three quarters, the score was 94-90 in favour of the Lightning.
The back and forth action continued in the fourth quarter, and the Lightning leaned on one of their star guards to carry them down the stretch. Nick Okorie connected on 5 three-pointers in the fourth quarter alone, the last coming with a shade over 5 seconds on the clock to put the nail in the coffin.
London was able to weather the storm, and hold off the Moncton Miracles to come away with the 135-130 victory in front of their home crowd.
Despite the final score, it wasn’t a pretty start for the Lightning. The starting group struggled from the floor, and fell behind 14-6 early on. That led to a timeout from Coach Julius, and a hockey-esque line change ensued, as the Lightning rolled out a new unit of five players.
The changes started to pay off right away for the Lightning, and they started to cut into the lead of the Miracles.
As the first half wore down, Mustafaa Jones and Tyshawn Patterson brought the Lightning to within 2 points, at 32-30. Jones connected on a three pointer, and Patterson made a layup in the lane to cap off the run.
On the defensive end, Chad Posthumus came up with blocks on back-to-back possessions to limit the chances for Moncton, and give London a shot of momentum.
Akeem Wright connected a three ball in the closing minutes to give London a 33-32 lead, and the Lightning took a 35-32 lead into the break.
The second quarter was a back and forth affair, much like the first. London was able to take an 8-point lead on an alley-oop slam by Stephen Maxwell on a dish from Wright, but the Miracles continued to fight.
Guard James Justice and Brandan Kearney spearheaded the Miracles’ charge back to eliminate the Lightning’s lead. First, Kearney connected on a three pointer to bring the Miracles to within 3, at 50-47.
Shortly thereafter, Tom Granado would connect on a mid-range jumper, and Justice would throw down a fast break slam to give Moncton a 53-50 lead. Then, just before the buzzer, Justice hit a layup in transition to send the Miracles into the break with a 61-58 advantage.
London opened the second half on a hot streak, and quickly eliminated the lead for Moncton. Wright scored five straight points to put London back in front by 3, at 70-67.
The third quarter was full of lead changes, as both teams were unable to gain any sort of separation from one another.
With that being said, points were aplenty in the quarter, and London outscored the Miracles 36-29 to take a 94-90 lead into the final 12 minutes.
Kearney and Ryan Anderson would trade three pointers in the early goings of the fourth, and London maintained their four-point lead, 99-95.
London had plenty of opportunities to put the game away, as they had three straight and-one plays. Kevin Loiselle completed his, but both Maxwell and Okorie missed their free throws and London took a 107-99 lead.
Moncton was hanging around, and James Justice was single-handily keeping the Miracles in the contest.
But the fourth quarter was all about the play of Nick Okorie. He connected on 5 three-pointers in the fourth quarter alone to carry London on offense.
The last came in the dying seconds, and put the final nail in the coffin. With just over 5 seconds on the game clock, Okorie calmly hit a three from the top of the arc, sealing the deal for the Lightning in the process.
At the final buzzer, the Lightning came away with the 135-130 victory over the Moncton Miracles.
For the Miracles, five different players scored in double-figures in the loss. James Justice led the way, scoring a game-high 36 points to go along with 9 assists and 6 rebounds for an all-around strong performance.
Tom Granado added 23 points and 6 rebounds, while Tydran Beaty added 19 points and Brandan Kearney chipped in 12 off the bench.
A balanced scoring attack paced the Lightning, as seven different players finished in double-figures. It was the usual culprits leading the way, as Nick Okorie finished with a team-high 33 points on 7-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc.
Stephen Maxwell recorded yet another double-double, finishing with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Akeem Wright finished with 14, while Ryan Anderson finished with 10 points in his home debut for the Lightning.
The Lightning undergo a quick turnaround after notching their eighth straight win over the Miracles. They’re back in action on Sunday afternoon, looking to complete a three-game in three fays stretch with a perfect 3-0 record. They put their win streak on the line against the Island Storm.
As for the Miracles, they head back to Moncton after their first trip to Ontario on the year. They have a few days off before returning to the court on February 4th against the Island Storm.